The most common question I am asked as a fitness professional is ‘What can I do for my tummy?’ I’m afraid the answer to a flat tummy is not the Ab cruncher 3000, or whatever the latest gimmick is, but it’s in the kitchen.
What does this mean? It means the food we eat plays a massive part in the way our body looks and how much muscle is on show. Of course doing Ab Crunches will help tone the muscle but if there is a layer of fat covering the muscle then we won’t get to see all your hard work.
The tummy is made up of 4 main muscle groups: The transversus abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscles and the internal oblique muscles. Our Rectus Abdominus is the muscle that we refer to as the 6 pack. It is important to understand, that this is in fact 1 muscle, not 6 small muscles. It is a long, thin muscle which runs vertically down the body. It has 3 (sometimes 4) bands of connective tissue (tendons) that go across the muscles which divides it into 6 (or 8) sections. It is the appearance of these tendons that give the look of a 6 pack. We all have a 6 pack it’s just hiding under the treats and bad habits we have adopted over time.
It is important to realise that changes in the body won’t happen over night. When I went travelling in 2008, I managed to go up 2 dress sizes in 5 months.
The reality of my weight gain only really sunk in when I returned home and couldn’t fit into any of my pre travelling clothes. I would eat a healthy breakfast, go for a run and then expect to look in the mirror and be a whole size smaller. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen that quickly. It was persistence, will power and most importantly patience that got me back to where I wanted to be.
As discussed in previous blogs, portion control and healthy snacks will play an important role in helping to reduce body fat. We also need to take part in some form of cardiovascular exercise – this is anything that gets your heart rate up and is therefore burning calories. If you are yet to try it, complete the 20:20 Exercise Plan (http://bit.ly/196uwwt) or try Power Walking, Running, or even a weekly game of Squash. To notice any physical changes in the body, you need to be burning off more calories than you are putting in.
A few food tips from me:
Try a poached egg instead of fried one
Try brown rice instead of white rice
Try carrot sticks instead of the daily bag of crisps
Cut out the Friday night take away and make yourself Cod and Sweet Potato Chips instead. See my favourite cod recipe: http://bit.ly/7soU2k
A final thing to think about – the magazine articles we read are filled with celebrities who have ‘flat abs’, ‘bikini perfect bodies’ and are ‘back in Size 8 jeans a week after having baby’. I am sure we could all achieve this if we had someone cooking for us and a personal trainer every day of the week, not to mention the odd airbrush.